What Happens if You have Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer first begins as a tumor in the lining of the colon. Early symptoms maybe bleeding, abnormal fecal discharge, or unexplained anemia. As the tumor grows, it may begin to obstruct the flow of feces causing abdominal colic and changes in bowel habits. If the obstruction is left to progress, eventually the flow of feces and gas will be completely blocked, resulting in abdominal enlargement, pain and vomiting. Perforation of the large intestine with intra-abdominal infection is another complication of advanced tumors.
Aside from its effect on the intestines, colon cancer also spreads through the lymph nodes and affects other organs away from the colon. The most sites of metastasis are the liver, lung, and peritoneum (inner lining of the abdomen).
Colon cancer is staged according to severity:
Stage I - cancer does not go beyond the wall of the colon.
Stage II - cancer goes beyond the wall of the colon.
Stage III - the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes around the colon.
Stage IV - the cancer has spread to other organs.
COLORECTAL SPECIALISTS, INC.
At the Forefront of Colorectal Care in the Philippines
Stage 4 Colon and Rectal Cancer
*Note: There is No More Stage 5
There are various stories about colon cancer being detected at a terminal stage. Christine, 44 years old, never had any symptoms – no pain, no weakness and fatigue, now weight loss, not even a streak of blood during bowel movement. But one day, she just bled profusely in the toilet. The verdict was Stage 4 colon cancer.
Fred, 45 years old, did not ignore his symptoms. He had abdominal pain and bouts of constipation and diarrhea for several months. He was diagnosed with amoebiasis. When bleeding started, he underwent flexible sigmoidoscopy and barium enema. Both exams were normal. No one suggested a colonoscopy. Fourteen months from the onset of his symptoms, his colon was completely obstructed by cancer. He had to undergo emergency surgery. At the time of surgery, his doctors noted his liver to full of tumor as well. Stage 4.
Margie has 2 siblings who were survivors of colon cancer. She was advised to undergo screening colonoscopy. She declined. She eventually noted blood from her stools. During work-up, she was diagnosed to have rectal cancer that has spread to her lungs. Stage 4.
Most colon and rectal cancers are caught in later stages. This is because symptoms usually take time to manifest. More often, symptoms are dismissed as hemorrhoids, stomach flu or other inflammatory bowel diseases. Also, there is a common disregard for the importance of colorectal cancer screening.
There are certain symptoms that may indicate the presence of colon and rectal cancer. These include: recent changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation; blood in the stool; persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps or gas pain; a feeling that bowel doesn’t empty completely; unexplained anemia, weakness or fatigue; and weight loss with no known reason.
Colon and rectal cancer, which is cancer of the large intestine or the lowest part of the digestive system, may be associated with a diet low in fiber and high in fat, calories, red meat, and processed foods. Other risk factors are a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, alcohol, diabetes, as well as a personal or family history of colon polyps or colorectal cancer. Age is also a risk factor. “About 90 percent of people diagnosed with colon cancer are older than 50,” says Dr. Manuel Francisco T. Roxas, a leading colorectal specialist, “although it can also occur in younger people, but much less frequently.” Thus, Dr. Roxas strongly recommends regular screening for those 50 years old and above.
In Stage 4 colon and rectal cancer, which is the final stage, the disease has spread to other parts of the body such as liver or lungs. Treatment for Stage 4 colon cancer entails a careful evaluation from experts to ensure correct staging. Then, a combination of treatment modalities can be applied such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery (a surgeon removes the section of the colon affected by the tumor and joins the remaining healthy sections together).
A multidisciplinary teamwork approach is applied in the management of colorectal cancer. The team is composed of specialists from the field of Colorectal Surgery, Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Pathology, Psychiatry and Enterostomal Nursing. The objective is to ensure that the best available care is provided the patient.
Colon and rectal cancer is best detected early, when it is most curable, before the development of symptoms. This is achieved through screening tests, particularly colonoscopy, which views the entire colon. At the same time, the surgeon can already remove any visible polyps (small, benign tissue which may eventually develop into colon or rectal cancer).
Various options for colorectal cancer screening are available. Routine screening is highly recommended, as follows: 1) fecal occult blood test yearly with flexible sigmoidoscopy every three years, or 2) colonoscopy every five to ten years, or 3) virtual CT colonography every three to five years.
Colorectal Specialists provides comprehensive, advanced, and efficient care to wide range of colorectal conditions. Its expertise is in the surgical management of colorectal cancer, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel diseases, and other benign disorders like hemorrhoids, fissures, fistulae, polyps, constipation, fecal incontinence, sexually transmitted anorectal diseases, and other colorectal problems. It always strives to provide comfort, privacy and total quality service to its clienteles.
This specialist clinic is located at the 3rd Floor, Medicard Lifestyle Center, #51 Paseo de Roxas Cor. Sen. Gil Puyat (Buendia) Ave., Makati City, with Tel. No. 555-0832, Cell phone No. 09266305759. The clinic is open from Mondays to Fridays - 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM, and on Saturdays - 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Also, please visit www.colonandrectalspecialists.com or www.crsi.com.ph.